Curious about whether gender selection is truly possible? Is selecting the gender of your baby a real thing?
Valid medical procedures do exist which allow a woman to choose whether she will have a girl or a boy. However these methods are very expensive, and not readily available to most women.
Can you Choose the Gender of Your Baby?
There are Only Two Proven Scientific Methods for Gender Selection
- Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), also called Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS)
- Microsort Sperm-Sorting
Natural gender selection methods are NOT scientifically valid. Read more…Myths of Natural Gender Selection: The Sperm Race to Nowhere. The odds of these at-home methods are ALWAYS 50:50.
Only one scientific method exists that can 100% guarantee your baby will be a boy, or a girl: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, often abbreviated PGD/IVF.
Another scientific method exists which can statistically change the odds in favor of one particular gender or the other: Sperm-sorting via Microsort.
Despite what is promoted in books, diets, hearsay and urban myths, no other methods exist which can statistically change whether a woman will have a girl or boy — wishing, hoping, and praying will work just as well!
IVF Gender Selection: How Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGD/IVS) Works
Eggs are harvested from the woman, and sperm is collected from the man. Embryos are created by in vitro fertilization, and then genetically tested to see which embryos are boys (XY) or girls (XX). Only embryos of the desired gender are implanted back into the woman’s uterus for pregnancy.
This procedure was developed to prevent certain X-linked genetic diseases, such as hemophilia. However the same scientific principles for genetic screening apply to gender selection.
Since only embryos of a desired gender are implanted into the woman, gender selection by PGD/IVF is 100% accurate. This is the only valid scientific method that ensures a desired gender.
How Sperm Sorting Works
Sperm is collected from the man, and then separated based on whether the sperm genetically carries a girl (X) or boy (Y) chromosome. See article: Girl or Boy: What Determines the Gender of a Baby?
The Microsort gender selection method uses a machine that can detect whether a sperm has more DNA by using a fluorescent stain which glows. Sperm carrying an X chromosome have 2.8% more DNA, and thus shine brighter in the machine.
Sorted sperm are then used to inseminate a woman by artificial insemination (IUI), or to fertilize an egg via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
However, not ALL the X or Y sperm are removed. Since the sperm is only ‘selected’ for a certain type of sperm, there is no guarantee that a baby will be the desired gender with sperm sorting. However, sperm sorting via Microsort has been scientifically proven to increase the likelihood of conceiving a boy or girl.
Microsort is 93% effective for girls; 82% for boys.
Microsort reports 93% effectiveness for girls, and 82% effectiveness for boys; much better than 50:50 natural odds. However this still means, 7% of women wanting a girl may actually get a boy, and 12% of women wanting a boy may actually get a girl. Unlike PGD/IVF, there is no 100% guarantee of the desired gender with sperm sorting alone.
Scientific Validity of Other Sperm Sorting Methods
The X chromosome is larger, and heavier, than a Y chromosome. However this does NOT significantly affect the speed or weight of the sperm.
Contrary to popular claims, Y sperm do not swim faster, nor can the small weight difference between X and Y sperm be effectively separated by spinning or washing. These claims are scientifically invalid.
Y sperm are NOT faster.
However, sperm washing and spinning is commonly used and available throughout the United States by infertility clinics. This is because damaged sperm are effectively removed by these techniques. Damaged sperm do swim slower and have weight differences, but this has nothing to do with gender.
Unfortunately some clinics offer this common practice of sperm preparation as a basis for ‘gender selection.’ However since the 1970s, no data supports the validity of these techniques for conceiving a boy or a girl.
Women should talk to their Ob/Gyn about why the Shettle’s Method, Ericsson Method, Gender Select, etc. are ineffective methods for gender selection. We strongly advise woman to follow the science, rather than wishful thinking, hearsay, or pursuing inaccurate medical advice.
What are the Odds of having a Girl or Boy using Gender Selection
PGD, or PGS, with IVF, is the only gender selection method that can 100% guarantee you will have a boy, or a girl. Microsort odds range from a 80-90% guarantee you will have a specific sex baby.
However, the odds of becoming pregnant with a valid gender selection method, either PGD/IVF or sperm sorting, is very low, and both methods are very expensive.
Standard IUI is only <10-15% effective for getting pregnant in each attempt, even WITHOUT sperm sorting. This percentage is even lower when combined with sperm sorting techniques, because less <50% of sperm is used.
IVF is only 20-40% effective for pregnancy each cycle for woman under age 40, WITHOUT PGD. Success rates for IVF/PGD pregnancy are a much lower when combined with gender selection, around <10-20%, as only the embryos of the desired gender are transferred back into the woman.
For example, a 0% pregnancy success rate for an individual cycle of PGD/IVF may occur if only embryos of the undesired gender are obtained after fertilization, such as if all boys embryos were generated, when a girl was desired. Given the very high cost of IVF/PGD, this potential for a 0% pregnancy rate makes the procedure nonviable for most couples.
In order to avoid a 0% cycle, Microsort can be added to IVF/PGD — because then >80-90% of all embryos generated would be the desired sex.
Comparison of Pregnancy Rates and Gender Odds
The highest rate of success for gender selection occurs when Microsort sperm sorting is combined with IVF/PGD. Estimates of pregnancy success are around 20-40%, similar to IVF without PGD; with a 100% guarantee of the desired gender. This is because the vast majority of embryos would be the desired gender, when both Microsort and PGD/IVF are combined.
How Much Does Gender Selection Cost?
The cost of gender selection varies based on the type of procedure a woman chooses.
Current estimates for gender selection with PGD is $3,000-$5,000 in addition to the cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can range from $11,000-$15,000.
Current estimates for gender selection with Microsort range from $3000-$4000 for ONE sorting procedure. This range is based on whether a woman chooses to undergo fertility drug treatment in order to boost her chances of pregnancy with IUI. Note: If used for IVF or PGD/IVF, the cost of sorting would then be ADDED to the IVF range above.
For a woman who has already frozen her eggs, Microsort could easily be implented; and for a woman who has already frozen embryos, PGD could be implemented. The cost and availability of these procedures is based on which country a woman resides
Are Gender Selection Methods Available in the United States?
Gender selection is legal in the United States, though currently not in countries such as Australia, Canada, China, India and the United Kingdom.
However, many clinics in the United States discourage gender selection, and often only offer IVF/PGD to couples with a family history of an X-linked genetic disease. However it is possible to undergo PGD/IVF for gender selection in the United States at many fertility clinics.
Microsort is no longer available in the United States, despite the success of its clinical trials. Currently Microsort has facilities in Mexico, Malaysia, North Cyprus, and Switzerland.
The FDA has cited ethical considerations for the lack of gender selection availability, deeming the procedure medically unnecessary except in cases of genetic X-linked disease.
However, Microsort is available internationally. It maybe possible to have sperm sorted internationally, frozen, and then used for IUI, IVF, or PGD/IVF back in the United States.
Please consult the references below, speak with your Ob/Gyn, and/or contact Microsort for more information.
HRC Fertility Clinic in Huntington Beach, CA. GenderBaby
Virginia Center for Reproductive Medicine. Gender Selection
Eftekhaari, T. E., Nejatizadeh, A. A., Rajaei, M., Soleimanian, S., Fallahi, S., Ghaffarzadegan, R., & Mahmoudi, F. (2015). Ethical considerations in sex selection. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 4, 32. http://doi.org/10.4103/2277-9531.157184
Grant, V. J. (2006). Entrenched misinformation about X and Y sperm. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 332(7546), 916.
Kalb, C. (2004). Brave new babies. Newsweek, 78, 45-53.
Karabinus, D. S., Marazzo, D. P., Stern, H. J., Potter, D. A., Opanga, C. I., Cole, M. L., … Schulman, J. D. (2014). The effectiveness of flow cytometric sorting of human sperm (MicroSort) for influencing a child’s sex. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology : RB&E, 12, 106. http://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-12-106.
Michelmann, H., Gratz, G., & Hinney, B. (2000). XY sperm selection: fact or fiction?. Human Reproduction & Genetic Ethics, 6(2), 32-37.